25 Years of Andres Serrano, From “Piss Christ” to Today, Coming to NYC’s Edward Tyler Nahem

This week Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art in Midtown Manhattan will open a quarter-century survey of photographs by Andres Serrano, from his 1987-88 “Immersions” series — including the beautiful and vandalism-prone “Piss Christ” — to his latest series, “Anarchy,” which he finished this year. The exhibition, titled “Body and Spirit: Andres Serrano 1987-2012″ and curated by former Artnet editor-in-chief Walter Robinson, will run from September 27 to October 26.

In the exhibition press release, Robinson writes:

Throughout his career, Serrano has created a distinct visual language that poses questions about mortality, religion, sex, and society, among other subjects that appear at the forefront of contemporary discourse. While Serrano’s photographic technique has remained straight-forward and without digital manipulation throughout his career, formally his works over time exhibit considerable variation. The abstract beauty and highly cathected photographs in “Immersions” and “Bodily Fluids”, frequently created with material sourced from the artist’s own body, differ greatly from the studio portraits of homeless people in “Nomads”, which the artist relates to the photographic depiction of Native Americans by Edward S. Curtis. These in turn differ from Serrano’s approach to his subjects in “America”, for which he chose a variety of sitters who are frequently described by their name and profession, which in itself becomes a marker for identity – be it a firefighter, a bull rider, or a Playboy bunny. Of particular significance during an election year, especially one marked by the return of the “culture wars”, is Serrano’s marked interest in the diversity of American society and his exploration of the multicultural heritage of the United States. Here, Serrano’s “outrageous idealism” find its heroes among American archetypes and celebrates their humanity — body and spirit combined.

Body and Spirit: Andres Serrano 1987-2012” opens Thursday night with a reception from 6-8pm. Expect beefed up security for fear that “Piss Christ” might once again fall victim to vandals.

— Benjamin Sutton

(Photos: Detail of Andres Serrano, “Madonna of the Rocks,” 1987; Andres Serrano, “Boy Scout John Schneider, Troop 422,” 2002. Courtesy the artist, Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art.)